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British Lawmakers Reject PM Johnson's Expedited Brexit Plan


FILE - Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to lawmakers inside the House of Commons to update details of his new Brexit deal with EU, in London, Oct. 19, 2019.

British lawmakers on Tuesday rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson's call for expedited approval of his plan to divorce the country from the European Union by the end of October.

The House of Commons adopted Johnson's 115-page Withdrawal Agreement Bill on a 329-299 vote, the first time Parliament has voted in favor of any Brexit proposal.

But the lawmakers then snubbed his bid, on a 322-308 vote, to give final approval to the measure within three days, likely eliminating his hope to complete Britain's long-delayed departure from the continent's 28-member bloc by next week.

The EU is considering whether to grant Britain another three-month delay to the end of January to devise a Brexit plan that contentious lawmakers in London would approve.

Ahead of the votes in Parliament, Johnson warned that he would call for a new parliamentary election if it failed to adopt a quick timetable for the final split from the EU.

After the vote, however, he said he would "pause this legislation" and consult with EU leaders about a further Brexit delay, while still contending Britain should leave the bloc as scheduled on Oct. 31.

"The public doesn't want any more delays, neither do European leaders, and neither do I," Johnson said Monday. "Let's get Brexit done on Oct. 31 and let's move on."

Johnson struck a surprise Brexit deal with the 27 other EU countries last week, but lawmakers voted to delay their backing for the agreement until legislation is approved, spelling out the terms of Britain's split from the EU after 46 years of membership in the continent's coalition.

They also approved a measure that forced Johnson to send a letter to the EU asking for a Brexit delay until Jan. 31, which he did not sign. He sent another signed note, as well, saying he opposes any delay.

Johnson suffered another setback Monday when Parliament Speaker John Bercow blocked the House of Commons from holding a new vote on Brexit, saying, "It would be repetitive and disorderly to do so" after it had been rejected last Saturday.

British lawmakers at various times have debated whether to leave with a deal with the other EU countries, without a deal, or hold another referendum. British voters narrowly favored Brexit in a 2016 referendum, but British leaders have failed since then to draft an exit plan with the EU that also could clear the House of Commons.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May resigned in Johnson's favor after Parliament defeated her Brexit proposals three times.

The constant delays have led to rising frustration with EU officials. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told a meeting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, that the Brexit quagmire in London was "a waste of time and energy" for the EU, and that the European Parliament cannot ratify the deal until the British Parliament does.